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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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"extra" children. Policies and programs aimed at reducing infant and child mortality considerably below present levels, therefore, may be an essential underpinning of governmental programs for fertility control.
Several fiscal and other government policies may also have a direct effect on the costs and benefits of having an additional child. Some of these policies are listed here with a tentative evaluation:
Village financing of education, health, and welfare services. In many less developed countries, the governments are unable to raise sufficient taxes to pay for the expansion of education required to raise enrollment ratios and to keep up with the rapid increase in numbers of children. At the same time, the demand for education among rural people has greatly increased. To meet this demand, it may be necessary to pass part of the responsibility for paying for education to the village level of government. Besides making more education possible, this policy would have the further effect that the villagers would become sharply aware of the costs of having large numbers of children, and would more clearly perceive their interest in lower fertility rates. The same procedure may be necessary and desirable, though to a lesser extent, for public health and welfare services.
Lowering the availability of housing. At least in some countries, the availability of housing appears to affect family formation and the fertility behavior of individual couples in the urban environment. At the same time, housing construction competes for scarce material and skilled labor with other industries needed for economic and social development. In these circumstances, governmental allocation of resources away from housing and toward increasing the means of production in other industries may help reduce fertility. The same result might be obtained by placing occupancy ceilings on housing, that is, limiting the number of people permitted to occupy a given amount of living space.
Military and national service. For national defense and other reasons, many nations require a large proportion of young men to serve in the armed forces. It has been observed that this tends to reduce fertility, at least in part by widening the horizons and the education of the draftees. Compulsory or voluntary national service that fully utilizes the energies and abilities of young women as well as young men could furnish an attractive alternative to marriage and would thus help to postpone the average age of marriage and childbearing—thereby leading to a significant lowering of fertility rates.
Tax and welfare disincentives. Various tax and welfare disincentives have been suggested, for example: abolition of income tax deductions for more than two or three children, an added tax for more than three children; or withdrawal of maternity benefits and family allowances for all but two or three children. These all need careful consideration on ethical grounds: unless a tax were strongly graduated by income, the rich would be affected only slightly, but the poor would be seriously hurt, and the main impact would be